Mihrigul Tursun is a 29-year-old woman of Uighur ethnicity with a story to tell the world.
“At age 12, I was sent to a school in inner China to deny my culture, identity and religious belief,” Turson told an audience at the National Press Club in Washington last week (Nov. 26). Her testimony, in which she told of the loss of her 4-month-old child, was a dramatic highlight of an event organized by an international group of scholars to call attention to China’s mass internment and psychological torture of innocent civilians.
In a statement, the Concerned Scholars on China’s Mass Detention of Turkic Minorities denounced the escalating atrocities facing Uighurs and called internment camps like the one Tursun was sent to a gross violation of human rights.
Tursun’s experience of family separation, threats, violence, re-education and torture at the hands of the Chinese government puts a human face on these abuses. More than that, it makes clear that the communist regime is not prepared for a woman like Turson. The repression, she said, “only made me more confident in my identity.”
Turson, who wore a headscarf tied at her neck, said she was forbidden in China from wearing the hijab. Most other forms of Muslim devotion are also proscribed.
After praying for death rather than endure more brutality, she said, she was “blessed to have miraculously escaped from the camps and have an opportunity to speak out.”
The State Department brought her to the United States in hopes she will inspire Americans to combat faraway human-rights violations the international community has been trying to ignore.
It would be tempting to think of Turson as one of the lucky ones. But even in the relative safety of her new home in Virginia, Turson has suffered debilitating post-traumatic stress: nightmares, sudden bouts of anxiety that the Chinese police will knock on her door in the night and kill her.
There are also physical reminders. She has scars on her body and pain from the chains and beatings. Her two surviving children have extreme physical and psychological health issues.
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Source: Religion News Service